There once dwelt, in the region of Naucratis in Egypt, one of the old gods, an inventor, named Theuth. One day he came before Thamus, the king, and presented his newest inventions of calculation, astronomy, geometry and more. But when he came to the invention of writing and said: "Here, O king, is a branch of learning that will make the people of Egypt wiser and improve their memories: my discovery provides a recipe for memory and wisdom," the king answered: "No, Theuth, you have declared the very opposite of its true effect. If people learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls: they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks; what you have discovered is not a recipe for memory, but for reminder." Plato, Phaedrus, R. Hackforth,tr.
Monday, October 17, 2005
The launch of the Rabble Podcasting Network is imminent. Stay tuned. In the episode of Occasionally Disturbs Others that Matt and i did this weekend i include a version of this remarkable little piece from Plato. A story about the dawn of literacy. I love the irony of this piece: